Duchess settles her hacking claim

The Duchess of York has received a public apology and damages from News Group Newspapers

The Duchess of York has received a public apology and damages from News Group Newspapers

First published in National News © by

The Duchess of York has settled her phone hacking damages claim at the High Court, receiving a public apology and damages.

The announcement came at the latest hearing before a judge in London to deal with actions brought against News Group Newspapers (NGN), publishers of the now defunct News of the World newspaper.

Statements of behalf of 17 people who have settled their claims were being read out before Mr Justice Vos.

They include singer James Blunt, former Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston, entertainer Uri Geller - who was present in court - actor Hugh Grant, former Labour Government minister Geoffrey Robinson and Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell.

Other statements being read out were on behalf of TV presenter Jeff Brazier, actress and singer Kerry Katona, presenter June Sarpong and anthropologist and adventurer Christopher Terrill.

In January last year, actor Jude Law headed a list of 37 people from all walks of life who settled their cases - with the star's compensation of £130,000 the biggest of the 15 awards then disclosed.

Other payouts announced included £40,000 to former Labour deputy leader John Prescott, £50,000 to Law's ex-wife, designer Sadie Frost, and £30,000 to MP Chris Bryant.

A year ago, singer Charlotte Church and her parents, James and Maria, settled their action for £600,000, including £300,000 legal costs, just days before it was to go to trial. Actress Sienna Miller was the first to publicly settle her privacy and harassment claim - for £100,000 - in June 2011.

David Sherborne, counsel for the Duchess of York, told Mr Justice Vos that the Duchess was "targeted" and voicemail messages on her mobile phone "were intercepted for the News of the World over a considerable period of time". He added: "I am here today to announce that NGN has accepted liability and agreed to pay damages to the claimant plus her legal costs."

Anthony Hudson, for NGN, told the judge: "NGN is here today through me to offer its sincere apologies to the claimant for the damage and the distress caused to her by the accessing of her voicemail messages and obtaining confidential information. NGN acknowledges that the information should never have been obtained unlawfully in the manner in which it was, and that NGN is liable for misuse of private information and breach of confidence."

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